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Before you go in to record:
*Record your music during live gigs or pre-production rehearsals.
*Have all musical and vocal parts worked out. (Know your guitar solos)
*Using a computer or a sequencer? Have all prepped before the session.
*If you plan to use a click track (which is best), make sure your drummer is comfortable playing to it. Quantizing drums later will cost more studio time that can get expensive.
*Rehearse more songs than you plan to record. You never know which song will sound strong on the final mix. If you plan on doing a 4 song EP Prep for 6.
*Remember an engineer is not the same as a producer although they're some who do both but charge extra. Again make sure your ducks in row before coming in. Know the key of the songs, what notes the melody lines are for the vocals, what amps you want to use, etc.
*Take care of yourself before and during recording sessions. Eat well, get enough sleep, and keep your ears rested and clear. Its good to do a yearly ear exam. Contact your local Miracle Ear location; they usually conduct one free ear exam a year.
*If your not feeling rested enough reschedule. Give the studio 24 hrs notice to avoid future deposits or charges.
*Know who your engineer is. Know who you booked your session with.
*Be early! (No more than 10 min) This will give you time to handle the payment and paperwork. The studio starts at the book time whether or not you are there. If your session was from 1-4 and you show up at 1:30, you will be charged from 1-4. Remember there is always traffic is Los Angeles, be prepared.
*Arrive to the studio with a good comfortable vibe. If not it will show in your finished product
*Make sure you and the engineer have the same vision (schedule a pre-production meeting). Go over your songs with him/her before recording. Before booking studio time, listen to samples.
*Use new strings, cords, drum sticks and drum heads. Bring spares! Guitar Center is a just 15 min drive. Make sure they have what you need in stock before your session (818) 990-8332
*Don't use new or different gear equipment that you haven't used before. Even if its better than what you have. Practice with it ahead, get familiar with it. Surprises can arise which can lead to longer hours than you calculated.
The Recording Process:
*Remember it’s an emotion and a feeling that make the best tracks, not necessarily the best technical rendition.
*If you mess up a part while record song don't stop and start over. That can easily cause you to burn out. Instead, check to see if the engineer can punch in the correction
*Don't force something that won't fit.
*Always keep in mind the focus of your music. If its vocals, plan to spend most of the time on them. Don't waste time on things that don't highlight the focal point.
*Get the sound you want. (Never assume that you can fix it in the mix)
*Unless you have unique effects, record individual tracks clean and add effects later.
*Don't necessarily double everything. Doubling a lead vocal can hide all the subtleties that make a song personal and likable. Although it works great for the chorus.
*A good recording is a lengthy process. It's much better to have two 6 hour sessions then a 12 hour session. You wont feel rush, focus will be clear and you and the engineer (producer) will be rested. Everyone will be on point. This may save you money and time from do overs caused by rush time and fatigue.
*Know when to quit for the day. If you're tiered, it will show.
*Keep friends and guest out! It's your recording, your time. Guest and friends will distract you and may sway your opinion of how the music should sound.
*Make backup copies after every recording session. Bring a portable hard drive.
*Tune up often!
*Singers always bring water (no energy drinks, soda) but don't use ice! Ice constricts your vocal folds. Hot tea (caffeine free) with lemon and honey work well to relax your vocal folds. Even Throat Coat tea from Whole Foods works wonders. Snack on healthy food. Apples are wonderful for singers.
Making The Most Out Of Mixing Time
*Listen to your music at moderate levels in your car, computer, CD player, home speakers, etc. This is how most of your fans will listen to it, and mixing at loud levels will fatigue your ears and distort the true sound.
*Sometimes it’s good to take a day off and come back to listen. The same applies for a mix down. Ears don't last long in the studio!
*Reviewing each mix, make sure you can comfortably hear all the instruments. Headphones are very valuable at this stage, but don't base your final decision on them. Once the mix "is a wrap", any extra tuning will be an extra charge. Make sure you and the engineer agree to the "final mix" so you're not paying for extra time.
*Learn to recognize ear fatigue. You're better off quitting a session early when you're tired than wasting time making a bad mix that will have to be redone anyway.